March 20, 1955
New York City, New York, U.S.
Eric Schiller (born March 20, 1955 in New York City) is an American chess player, trainer, arbiter and one of the most prolific authors of books on chess in the 20th century.
Schiller was born in New York City. He attended Guggenheim Elementary, Sousa Jr. High School and later Paul D. Schreiber High School. He graduated from the University of Chicago 1976, later teaching both there and at Wayne State University. In 1991, he earned his PhD in linguistics from the University of Chicago.
After his undergraduate years, Schiller turned to music performance and founded a music group called the "Long Island Sound Ensemble" and studied conducting in Vienna, Salzburg and Hancock, Maine. He was a frequent attendant at NY Philharmonic rehearsals until 1981.
In 1974, Schiller was the Illinois Junior Champion. Schiller played for the University of Chicago team several times at the Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship. Schiller was the Hawaii action and blitz champion for 1988/89. He was an organizer of the Hawaii International chess festivals 1994-98 including 1998 US Open California Champion 1995. Later that year, he appeared as a chess advisor for the music group Phish on some of the stops for their "Chess Tour" where they played an ongoing game of two chess moves per tour stop and some "band vs. audience" partial games as part of their stage performance. Schiller was an arbiter at several notable games and championships including the FIDE World Chess Championship 2000. While Vladimir Kramnik and Garry Kasparov opted not to participate in the event, they had both endorsed Schiller for this sensitive role during the planning stages.
Schiller is an International Arbiter and International Trainer. Schiller's expertise and publications in the Flohr-Zaitsev Variation made him a sought-after expert when Garry Kasparov used that opening at the second game at the World Chess Championship 1990.
Schiller has organized some chess tournaments. He has often been a news reporter, reporting on Chess Olympiads and World Chess Championship matches. Schiller was the arbiter for the Staunton Memorial tournament in London in 2005, 2007 and 2008, and the 2006 Gibtelecom International Chess Festival in Gibraltar.
Schiller has written over 100 chess books, more than any other author of the genre in the 20th century except Fred Reinfeld and Raymond Keene. John L. Watson, who has co-authored three books with Schiller, considers some of Schiller's output to be well suited to its amateur audience. Watson wrote of Complete Defense to King Pawn Openings and Complete Defense to Queen Pawn Openings that "these books are explicitly aimed at the developing student, not the advanced player, and I think they both do a particularly good job of gently guiding an inexperienced player through a new opening. ... While Schiller probably deserves some of the criticism he gets, a consequence of writing too many books too quickly, he should also get credit when he does a good job." International Master Jeremy Silman wrote of Watson and Schiller's The Big Book of Busts, "I am forced to swallow my bigoted view of Schiller's work (or does this just validate my opinion of Watson?) and admit that this is a great book".
Schiller also work as chess developer mainly developing teaching tools, like all the tutorials for computer software Kasparov's Gambit, chapters of the reference manual of the same game and developing teaching tools included in Chessmaster 5000.
Amongst Schiller's large output, some of his books have received poor reviews. Chess historian Edward Winter has criticized many of Schiller earlier books for large numbers of spelling, factual and typographical errors, and even claimed plagiarism. Schiller's Unorthodox Chess Openings received a noted two-word review from Tony Miles in Kingpin: "Utter crap." Carsten Hansen wrote of Schiller's book on the Frankenstein-Dracula Variation of the Vienna Game that it was "by far the worst book that I have ever seen."
Schiller's PhD thesis was entitled "An autolexical account of subordinating serial verb phrase constructions". He is a published author in linguistics, specializing in Mon-Khmer languages. Schiller is a co-founder of the Southeast Asian Linguistic Society and was an officer of the Chicago Linguistic Society. He maintains a web page with a lengthy list of his linguistic publications at this URL.
Books by Schiller on linguistics include:
Since 2008, Schiller has experienced some health setbacks including having his right hand and foot amputated due to complications from diabetes. Nonetheless, he remains active and ambulatory with the aid of a walker and continues to teach chess at several elementary schools in and near Mountain View, California in affiliation with Bay Area Chess, where he now lives. He offers chess tutoring over the Internet via videoconferencing.